A majority of Israelis have no faith in Prime Minister Ehud Barak, reeling from a series of stunning political blows that have set the ball rolling for early elections, according to an opinion poll published Friday.
The survey in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper found that 56 percent of the public believed Barak is not credible, against 42 percent who still had faith in their prime minister.
If elections were held today, Barak would win the support of 43 percent of Israelis, against 39 percent for Ariel Sharon, the leader of the right-wing opposition party Likud, while 18 percent were undecided.
But if former right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to contest an election, he would gain 46 percent against 42 percent for Barak, with 12 percent undecided, the poll by the Dahaf institute found.
Barak swept to power in a landslide election victory against Netanyahu, beating him 56 percent to 44 in May last year, but has been without a parliamentary majority since early July, when three parties defected from his government in protest at the Camp David peace summit with the Palestinians.
The poll surveyed 509 Israelis and carries a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
Another poll by the Gallup polling institute and published in the Maariv newspaper had similar findings on the results of an election, but gave mixed signals about the public's support for early polls.
Asked simply if they were in favor of early elections, 65 percent said yes and 25 percent said no. But given a choice of options, 42 percent said they backed early elections, 36 percent said they wanted the formation of a national unity government and 12 percent a coalition government including both the left-wing Meretz party and the powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party.
It found that 43 percent would support Netanyahu against 40 percent for Barak with 17 percent undecided, while the current prime minister would defeat Sharon by 41 to 35, with a large 24 percent undecided.
The Gallup poll questioned 592 people and also had a 4.5 percent margin of error - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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